Saturday, October 25, 2014

House fires: why do people die in upstairs bedrooms?

Here's the AOL report on the latest house fire tragedy, one in which a father and son died, and a sibling survived, albeit in a critical condition. It's thought the fire was started deliberately.

Whilst not knowing the precise circumstances as regards the location of the victims, it's one more instance in a long catalogue of such tragedies. But why? Can someone explain to me why folk who find themselves trapped in a burning building, even one rapidly filling up with smoke and toxic gases, do not simply head for the nearest window and jump out. The worst outcome of jumping from a bedroom window - say 12 feet above ground level, if that, and landing on concrete  - would be ankle, leg or back injury surely? That could be reduced by lowering oneself part of the drop height by hanging onto the window frame before letting go.

The fire brigade has said in the past that families should work out escape routes in advance. Why don't we hear more on that score? Why are there not public service ads on TV?

One of my previous houses had a front porch with sloping tiled roof that went up almost to the smallest bedroom at the front of the house. I told my 3 children to make their way to that bedroom in the event of a fire. Fortunately that was not needed.

I think I understand a lot of things regarding the world in which we live, but I do not understand house fire deaths. Deaths in multi-story buildings, yes, but not ordinary house fire deaths. Please someone explain.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Modelling the Shroud of Turin image with a flour-assisted Maillard browning reaction.

This is simply to flag up the new direction my research has taken, prompted by the discovery that the Shroud image is in fact two-tone (see posting that immediately precedes this one). While speculative, it is possible that the image is a composite of an intense  orange-brown scorch on linen fibres per se, with a wider more diffuse image that represents something else, possibly a Maillard product on something that had been added to the linen as a surface coating.

Here are just three pictures, obtained today in my kitchen laboratory, that suggest my latest modification  of the contact scorch hypothesis developed over close on 3 years, based on image analysis, may prove fruitful. We shall see.

Care to guess what's happening here?. The linen is receiving heat from underneath. No, there's not a template in sight.

Here's a clue. It's the template, a few minutes before the above picture was taken.

So what's that coating? Looks like flour. Might it be flour?

The image from that crucifix, obtained with a Maillard reaction that did NOT require pressing hot metal into linen, was a bit disappointing, but then it was the first trial of the new technology. A better result was obtained using a bas-relief metal template, i.e. a horse brass with King George VI.

Pity I chose to roast over a grid, but it's the principle that matters.

Notice the dusting on the horse brass. Yup, it's that flour again! It was preceded by a light smear of olive oil.

21:00. These findings did not come out of the blue. They followed on from those of the systematic testing of flour impregnation of linen, as yet unreported, the design for which was flagged up in the previous posting. Having quickly established  this morning that flour was indeed an agent for sensitizing linen to thermal 'scorching' via  the expected Maillard browning reactions, leaving untreated linen unaffected, there seemed little point in making a meal of the routine preliminaries - needed for sound science,it goes without saying,  but not conducive on a blog to holding one's readership, though rest assured those tests were done.

  Takeaway message: the initial hunch was confirmed, namely that flour does indeed contain all the ingredients for an in situ Maillard browning reaction:  flour dusted onto the surface fibres of linen should, and indeed does, act as a heat-sensitizing agent. The beauty of flour, needless to say,  being a finely particulate solid, is that it does not soak through as would a solution to the opposite side to give an image there as well, except possibly a ghost image due to migration of a few particles through the interstices of the weave. ( See "Shroud second face". Possible explanation?)


Slight change of plan: the original intention was to keep this as a reader-friendly 'short communication' and in fact end right here, with an assurance that the bulk of the supporting evidence would be along at a later date in some shape or form. But on reflection, separating off the teccie stuff is not an ideal solution in this cruel old blogosphere where uncharitable souls can and do accuse one of posting material that is 'light' or even 'empty'. (Reminder: I stated at the outset that my Shroud research would take the form of an account in real time of experimental activity, thought-processes, and, finally,  hard data and conclusions, but there would be no attempt - or pretence- at writing 'scientific papers' as if for conventional peer-review. My peers are anyone who logs onto my site(s), who may if they wish avail themselves of the Comments facility if they feel moved to do so. I leave it to scientists with laboratories at their disposal to decide which if any of my claims stand up to testing under more rigorous conditions than I can hope to deploy in a kitchen-laboratory.)

There's another solution that I'm minded to adopt, which is to pause after making the initial "short communication", and then add a technical appendix, making it clear that it does not need to be regarded as essential reading by those whose time is at a premium,  or who don't need  or wish to be burdened with the detail, being content perhaps to know that the detail was not skipped.

Yes. That's is what I shall do. Expect to see a Technical Appendix appear here later in the day that will be assembled in instalments. It will start with a description of the initial tests with flour that established that a standard  food ingredient in use for millennia containing both reducing sugar (free or potential) and amino groups (primarily as protein) might serve as an image-imprinting surface-coating that would or could acquire a scorch-like colour at a lower temperature than untreated linen. In other words, one was looking for a scorch via a Maillard browning reaction rather than simple pyrolysis. Having confirmed that prediction, there were then two quick trials, each taking less than an hour, of using flour as a imprinting agent, reminiscent perhaps of Luigi Garlaschelli's remarkable production of a TS-like image by what he termed 'powder frottage' using , among other things, artists' ochre (powdered red iron oxide) with a crucial baking step. The first used the 'KIng George VI' horse brass as a bas relief; the second, more ambitious, used a fully-3D brass crucifix (both these templates having been deployed and reported on previously).

Technical Appendix

Fig.1: Sprinkle plain white flour onto linen from a 'pepper pot' next to a straight edge. (Ignore the scorch imprints on the lower edge, which are from a previous experiment). The brush will be used to obtain an even layer.

Fig.2. Appearance after smoothing out the flour.  (Again, ignore those 3 scorches from the previous experiment)

Fig.3. Remove the straight edge. Now ready for the first imprinting, where a heated metal template will be applied so as to make contact with flour/non-flour zones simultaneously.


Fig.4. Heat up  metal templates (A is the one I have used for close on 3 years, B is a brand new one)


Fig.5. Success with the very first impressing, closest to the green tape.  There has been selective scorching of the flour - the linen being largely unaffected. Note there was only enough heat to get a single intense scorch. The Maillard reaction must be strongly endothermic (i.e. heat-abstracting) which is good in a practical sense (reducing the risk of too much heat penetrating into the deeper layers of the weave).
Fig 6. Final appearance after 4 pressings, each starting with a template straight off the cooker hob, and used  for obtaining  consecutively : 2 serial imprints (Exp 1), a further 2  after re-heating (Exp 2), a further 3 after reheating (Exp 3) and a further 3 after reheating (Exp 4), making 10 pressings in all from 4 heatings.

 Conclusion. The white flour performed exactly as predicted, making it possible to create a scorch imprint on linen at a lower temperature (undetermined) than is needed to scorch uncoated linen.  I would not expect to obtain the same result with pure starch, given that a source of amino (-NH2) groups are needed in addition for a Maillard reaction, but have not done a flour/starch comparison as yet. (May do so later).

Might this simple technology have been used by a medieval artisan as the chemical basis for producing the image on the Turin Shroud? Answering that question may involve a great deal of further experimentation (on the TS as well as in model systems), but as the man said: "The longest journey begins with a single step".

Next question: how easy or how difficult is it to adapt the above technology for producing a negative imprint on linen (recalling that the TS image shows light/dark reversal as first shown by Secondo Pia in 1898)? Does the linen itself have to be pre-coated, or can one attach the flour directly to a template? The latter note does NOT have to be heated. Maybe the coated linen can be heated after imprinting first with flour. I shall continue for now to deploy a metal template (unheated), but note that there is no longer any reason for using metal. Any object with  a modicum of 3D surface relief could be used to leave its negative imprint on linen, at least in principle - including, dare one suggest, a cooperative human volunteer, as in those magnificent Garlaschelli studies.

To keep things simple (initially) a  shallow bas relief  horse brass was deployed in the next experiment (but one could imagine it being a live human being as well, assuming he or she were willing to submit to the messy  but otherwise low-biohazard procedure about to be described).

Before going on to describe that, a question that may be in folks' minds is "How firmly is that 'toasted flour' attached to the cloth? All I can say for now is that some test strips were placed in (a) tap water and (b) soapy water overnight, and had not noticeably dissolved in either liquid.

"Very firmly attached" would seem to be the answer for now.

Bas relief experiment
All ready to go: brass template, olive oil, and a sealable polythene bag with plain white flour. First smear a thin film of oil onto the template, then place inside bag, then, gripping the edges of template with fingers (through the plastic) ensure it becomes evenly dusted with flour.

Flour-coated template, ready for first printing-by-contact

OK, not the most sophisticated way of heating the linen and its (faint) flour imprint, but I needed to have everything open for maintaining a second-by-second watch with camera ready.

This looks interesting...
Even more interesting! Shame about the grid (and I should maybe have knocked off that surplus flour).

It's been over-roasted, obviously, but I wanted to see the (near) complete course in the initial run  short of total incineration. (Subtlety can wait till later). If you look carefully, you can even see the template lettering. Shame it's reversed, as happens with contact printing. Let's try flipping that imprint to see if one will be able to read GEORGE VI (left) and CORONATION 1937 (right and underneath)

Well, it's clearly lettering one can see inside the yellow box, though whether one can read all or part of "CORONATION" is another matter.  These are early days: maybe it's a mistake to expect too much of a powder imprint, when there's been no actual contact between hot metal and cloth., merely a kind of "fingerprint" technique.
Aside: one could call this technology the "flour fingerprinting" technique, though it would be necessary to qualify that by saying it's "thermally-assisted", to distinguish it from the dusting procedure used by detectives to detect real fingerprints.

That leaves the last of yesterday's experiments to be more fully documented - the attempt to imprint off a fully-3D template - one I have used previously in a direct thermal imprinting. Here's a reminder from that paper.

Direct thermal imprint, aka contact scorch: dorsal side of brass crucifix.

Here we go again: the new flour-imprinted crucifix experiment
The crucifix has been lightly oiled and placed inside the polythene bag with a little plain white flour.

Oops. I used too much oil. That's the flour/oil imprint underneath, and the crucifix after imprinting on top. The old towel was used to press the crucifix into the linen, with  several layers of  cloth underneath,  Never mind. Press on (regardless). This is a warts 'n' all presentation.


Here we see the first signs of yellowing, which are on the bearded chin and the chest. (The picture jumped up the page when I tried to attach a caption, so we'll enter "captions" as text for now, and try again later).

At this point, while an image of sorts was taking shape, it became clear that the temperature was rising to fast (the linen was sitting on an upturned oven tray placed over a hot ring). The next picture confirmed that impression.

Oh dear. Could do better. Like using gentle heat, over a longer period of time. Notice to fellow blogmeisters. Please do not display this photo as representative of the new technique. The only reason for displaying it now is archival: it  shows what can go wrong when one's in a hurry, using a modern electric hob with excessive rate of temperature rise. What's needed now is use of an oven with more stable temperature environment, albeit less handy for keeping tabs on progress and taking photographs.

OK, that's all the pictures (just a representative selection of some 120 taken yesterday).

So what's next?

Better more precise control of temperatrure, obviously. I shall be putting linen and flour separately in a domestic oven that came supplied with my kitchen laboratory, fitted with a detachable oven thermometer, a recent purchase, and then proceed  to establish the range of temperature that gives best differentiation between the coloration of flour and that of linen. It should hopefully then be possible to set the oven at an optimum temperature that allows development of the melanoidins of flour, i.e. Maillard reaction products, to be achieved by varying time rather than temperature.

There will then need to be microscopic examination of the linen fibres to establish the degree of superficiality of coloration.That has never been a road block in my conventional scorching experiments, contrary to claims that contact scorches affect all the fibres in a thread. I have shown that to be a complete fiction. Even intense scorches can affect only a relatively small number of fibres in the immediate vicinity of the contact zone. I may or may not find that to be the case also for the flour-sensitized system.

Reverse side scorching? There seems to be little of that, but some photographic evidence willbe sought.

Fluorescence? The fluorescence of conventional contact scorches has been a major factor in turning Hugh Farey, the BSTS Editor, against the scorch hypothesis. Maybe he could find time to check out a melanoidin-type scorch. I have no information to hand on whether they do or do not fluoresce. It would be a bit of a coup to have discovered a non-fluorescent scorch, n'est-ce-pas? Are you  busy this weekend, Hugh? Isn't it half term week coming up?

So much to do? How come no one else is doing these kinds of experiments, while Shroudie congresses come and go, with experts expatiating on the subtle characteristics of the TS image. Subtle in relation to what? Subtlety has no meaning if there are no model reference systems. Any reference system, even a classical contact scorch that is huffily ruled out of contention (why??) has surely to be better than no model at all.

Update Saturday pm

Have just used a fan oven set at 240 degrees Celsius and obtained this result with the new 'flour fingerprint' technology.

It's an acceptable image in gross terms, would you not agree? There's just one snag. It was powdery and easily brushed off. So there's a difference between roasting over a hot plate and roasting in a fan oven. Why that should be is something that is not immediately obvious. Or maybe there was some other difference, e.g. in amount of vegetable oil. Either way, it's good to see an image which (though I say it myself) might be said to occupy the Goldilocks zone (neither too sharp, nor too fuzzy). There is still so much to do. Maybe I should advertise for a lab technician, one who is prepared to evacuate the 'laboratory' whenever the General Manageress makes her entrance some 3 times per day.

PS:  It was even possible to get a second imprint off the same horse brass without needing to recoat with oil and flour, though the quality was needless to say somewhat inferior (and still brushed off).

It's only mentioned here since it demonstrates what might be termed the robustness of the imprinting technology.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Turin Shroud: tweaking of Shroud Scope yields further evidence for a TWO-TONE body image.

This shows the stages in changing the as-is Shroud Scope image (far left) to the final tweaked version (far right). Click to ENLARGE

 This is a follow-on from the last but one posting, which reported evidence that an 'official'  Halta Definizione image of the Turin Shroud, displayed 4 years ago on the BBC's website, was apparently two-tone (generally a nondescript grey in colour, but a much brighter orange-brown at a few locations).

The orange-brown parts subjectively have the appearance of pressure and/or thermal  imprints, possibly contact scorches, being interpretable as parts of the naked human anatomy with the highest relief, and thus most likely to make immediate and direct contact with an enveloping linen sheet.

However, some difficulty was experienced in eliciting the same two-tone pattern from the more comprehensive Shroud Scope, which is available free on the internet, thanks to the initiative of Canadian IT specialist and Shroud authority, Mario Latendresse.

That difficulty has now been overcome with a patient exploration of brightness/contrast/mid tone(BCM) settings in  MS Office Picture Manager.

This posting will serve simply to flag up the two-tone effect, which this blogger has not previously heard mention in some 3 years of reading and research. The question of whether it's an artefact of "playing around" with a photo-editing software package is one that will be deferred for now. Suffice it to say that if I thought for one moment that were the case, then I would not still be pursuing it now, far less posting to the Web.

First, let me introduce the new settings that were needed with Shroud Scope. They were BCM -76/70/60 respectively, radically different from those used with the Halta image (31,36,-100). Despite that large difference, the new settings, as with the old, produced relatively little change with a carefully chosen photograph of thermally-developed 'invisible ink' scorches on linen (one of many possible origins of the TS image, but included here as a  current research preoccupation, indeed working model).

Left: photograph 'as is'; Right, after applying BCM = -76/70/60 in MS Office Picture Manager. Note the modest augmentation of stain intensity without major colour differences, within or without the circled areas.

The next graphic shows the effect of applying those same settings to Shroud Scope images, starting with the dorsal side.

Before applying new settings (click to ENLARGE)

After applying new settings (click to ENLARGE)

 As above but cropped and enlarged x2. Note two tones (orange-brown on shoulders, upper back, in contrast to  a nondescript mauve coloration on lower back, lower half of buttock etc). Click to ENLARGE.
Note the new two-tone appearance above, with some regions having a similar hue to the first unadjusted image, while others, notably the back of head, shoulders, back, one side of buttocks, shins etc now exhibiting an orange-brown coloration.

Shroud Scope Face Only Vertical, before and after applying the new settings. Note the colour difference between face and hair, the first being strongly orange-brown, the second much less so, and the strong imprinting of the prominences (brow ridge, nose, chin etc).

Note that no single location makes a complete case for there being a two-tone distribution that is independent of the proliferation of scourge marks, or for the orange-brown coloration being specifically a feature where bony or other prominence makes physical contact with linen. One has to look at ALL the sites to get a balanced view.

So let's not forget the frontal side before taking a break here:

Frontal side, Shroud Scope, before making adjustments (click to ENLARGE)

The same, after applying BCM = -76/70/60 (click to ENLARGE)

Still doubtful dear reader? Then take a look at this one, hot from the presses.

Here I've made a very small adjustment to the mid-tone value, from 60 down to 52, because it seemed to be optimising that crucial difference between the two colorations, on a location where it is possible to deduce where there is more or less easier contact between linen and flesh, e.g. backs of hands being a certainty, the region immediately around the hands much less certain. It is this kind of assessment where one compares colorations with known sites and their ease of access that gradually builds confidence that the colour differences are real (even if the absolute hues are not), and not trivial artefacts. I've also left the flags etc in the above picture, to show how little change there is after making these adjustments in Picture Manager.

Here's the Shroud Scope starter image for comparison:

I'll be back later with my interpretation of the two-tone effect. It was previously flagged up in my last-but-one posting, but the latter, being (admittedly) over-longit  is now somewhat difficult to find. It won't hurt to repeat it here. Or there again, it may, conceivably just may, there being some folk in this fractious old world who don't care one bit for my anti-authenticity line. But have they been reading AND researching for nigh on three years? Well, I have, and there comes a time when one's thoughts start to crystallize.  So why hold back? Tell folk what one really thinks. Don't beat about the bush.

Afterthought: so which image provided a better demonstration of two-tone properties. Was it the Halta Definizione picture off the BBC site:

or was it the comparable Shroud Scope picture in today's posting?

I'd say it was a close call, but one of them has the edge.

Postscript: have been scouring  internet image files, searching for new TS images that can be 'tested' for two-tone character.

Here's a site that says its speciality is the TS for iPads.

It says its images are Durante 2002, i.e. the same as per the most recent set on Shroud Scope, but with a difference - while also monochrome (approximately) the hue is different (see above image).

So it seemed worth testing a portion of that image in Picture Manager, with no pre-set brightness, contrast etc, and merely vary settings to see if anything of interest emerged.

This shows quite well an effect noted in the previous posting - patchy greyish image area, distinct from orange-brown of the chin, nose etc, but present also outside the image area. It's as if there had been a coating on the linen, much of it probably now detached, that maybe served as a receptive layer for image, and given my focus on thermal imprinting, I'm bound to see it as some kind of mixture that gives a Maillard reaction when exposed to heat, say from a heated template. But the 'pointy' bits of the template will produce local over-heating, so one ends up with a heterogeneous image, with a diffuse background representing Maillard products, but with actual scorched linen at those high-pressure contact areas.

Let's not lose sight of the research imperative - never to place too much reliance on a single set of data, obtained with a particular set of variables. Previously I had demonstrated two-tone colour with an unfamiliar image, obtained off the Web, using  particular settings in Office Manager. Today I've achieved a comparable result (perhaps not quite so striking) using the more familiar Shroud Scope image as input, and devising new settings from scratch. It seems fairly certain that the two-tone character is a real property of the TS image, one that has been curiously missed in the past. Why?

 I was accused recently of working without a protocol. My defence (not that any defence is needed): independent researchers are free agents. They do not need protocols. Maybe it's those protocols, adhered to rigidly, that have prevented previous researchers doing what researchers do - experiment with new settings - just for the hell of it, to see what if anything happens.

News just in: there's a new Guardian feature devoted to Charles Freeman's article in 'History Today', setting out the historian's belief that the TS was created in medieval times for use in a religious festival.

It's accompanied by an image of the TS, provenance not specified. It looks good - like it were on real linen, but too good, being far more prominent that the real article in its glass case in Turin. Maybe it's one of those photographically-imprinted replicas one can buy. Irrespective, I thought  it would be fun to upload that image to MS Picture Manager and see of I could give it a browner beard, nose, eyebrows etc.

Amazingly, the exercise was partially successful:

Before and after -21/100/7 brightness/contrast/mid-tone value
Not having a protocol does not mean one does not engage in forward planning. I've been taking a break from experiments these last two weeks, thinking about better ways of achieving an in situ Maillard reaction on linen, and to do so in a way that does not penetrate through to the opposite side of the cloth (a big sticking point thus far in experiments with milk, lemon juice, egg white etc).

But who says one needs to use a liquid? Why not a fine powder that can be rubbed into the surface of the linen, followed by thermal imprinting, then shaking out the surplus powder, hoping the browning products remain attached to the fabric?

Now then, what powder is likely to give a Maillard reaction with no further additions, and was a common commodity in medieval times?

The answer is obvious - WHITE FLOUR! Note the difference between using flour for a Maillard reaction, and Rogers' postulate regarding starch and its degradation products, The latter was presumed to be the source of reducing sugar (somewhat optimistically in my view, but no matter). The second component required is amino-groups, for which Rogers' saw a role for putrefaction amines released from a dead and (very quickly) decaying corpse. Flour on the other hand provides everything needed for a Maillard reaction. There are probably reducing sugars there already,  and wheat flour is well supplied with albumin and glutenin proteins.

We shall see what we shall see...

That will be my next experiment.

This comment has just appeared elsewhere from Thibault Heimburger MD.

"... Regarding Colin, as I wrote, I do not understand him.
I wrote: ” …All of that being based on image manipulations.”
This does not imply any kind of intellectual dishonesty.
Simply that he does not know/understand what he is doing while “manipulating” the images.".

 Does TH know what's happening inside his patient's cells each time he prescribes an antibiotic or some other drug? No, and what's more he doesn't need to. What he does is monitor the outward symptoms, and look for changes that can be construed as improvements in the patients' condition. It's called intervention. It's what professionals do. They intervene.

Well, it's much the same where image enhancement is concerned. Does TH seriously imagine that the base images available say on Shroud Scope are sacrosanct? Indeed, does he imagine they are the 'authentic' representation of the TS image, when 1532 burn holes do not look like  burn holes? Well, they do after I have made my very minor adjustments in contrast, brightness and mid-tone value (see how minor they are from my reference tablecloth photo above). No TH, I am NOT the innocent abroad you (or Dan Porter) make me out to be.

Friday 24 October

Afterthoughts: most investigators must perforce spend lengthy parts of their careers dealing with black box situations, even if pixel composition and RGB balance is not one of them. What is chemistry if not a black box? One cannot see what the individual atoms and molecules are doing, and would suffer instant sensory overload if one could. So one monitors changes at the macroscopic level instead -  like physical state, colour, crystal form and melting temperature, chromatographic mobility  etc etc and attempts to deduce what is happening at the ultramicroscopic level. The same goes for biology - one cannot see directly what is happening at the subcellular level - one monitors at the intact cell, tissue, organ or whole body level instead. Beware doomsters who say one is messing with things one does not understand, and can never hope to understand. Messing with things one does not understand has a name - it's called science. One CAN begin to understand, providing one's approach is systematic - changing  variables one at a time, a little at a time, patiently  building up one's knowledge base, getting a feel for the unfamiliar system, and losing no sleep through inability to see what's inside the black box.

I shall try my 'white flour' experiment today. But what if it all gets too complex? What if the flour particles introduce a new stochastic element, turning high-minded molecular chess into unpredictable snakes and ladders? What if one starts to see interruptions in the coloration along individual fibres, and/or phenomena that only image analysis experts can hope to understand, like, you know, striation, half tone effect, ultrasuperficiality etc etc?   ;-)

08:30  As stated  earlier, this blogger/experimentalist does not do protocol as part of his repertoire, but he does outline plan, and is happy to share that with readers ahead of doing his experiments (if only to scotch the silliness about my "manipulating" results). The buzz with science (see blog title) is to plump for a working model, and use it to make predictions. If the model's any good the predictions will prove correct. If not, the model may need to be modified or even abandoned. There is no shame in modifying a model. Hypothesis is not the same as set-in-concrete doctrine or dogma. When are folk going to learn the difference between the scientific modus operandi and apologetics?

From wiki:  Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, "speaking in defense") is the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of information.

Here's the plan for the flour experiment, displayed in three quickie stages with MS Paint:

Stage 1 (left)- place straight edge (grey) on linen, then sprinkle/lightly brush white wheaten flour along the boundary.
Stage 2 (centre): remove straight edge.

Stage 3 (right): serially imprint with heated metal template, the latter cooling progressively when moved left to right in small jumps - see red arrow- along the line of demarcation between flour and untreated linen.

Here we are all ready to go - with some unconventional "straight edges" in the field of view, of sentimental value to this now longish-in-the-tooth researcher (including that inconspicuous but precious little card that exempted me from the Vietnam-era Draft in 1970!)

Friday 12:50

We have a result, albeit preliminary from FLOUR TEST 1 (and a smelly kitchen too). There's a fulsome photographic record to go with it, as per usual.

I shall start writing it up this afternoon as a new posting. What title to give it?  Talk up, or play down the result? One thing is for certain: I must desist from adding an exclamation mark to the end. Shroudologists (not counting radiocarbon daters) DETEST exclamation marks!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Reality check: UFO spotted on spacewalk video

Here's the picture that is supposed to electrify us (AOL site):  the yellow arrow is mine:

Yup, the arrow is supposed to point  to a "UFO". Maybe, but probably not.

You see, there's a tiny source of difficulty when attempting to spot UFOs out the window of one's orbiting spacecraft.

Anything that breaks off one's orbiting spacecraft does NOT  fall away into deep space. Why not? Because  it has exactly the same momentum and velocity as the spacecraft itself, assuming it's simply "fallen off", as distinct from being blasted off in an explosion.

That being the case, it simply accompanies one, orbit after orbit, forever on view outside the window. That's due to lack of air resistance (no air resistance in space) and because gravity in orbit, while still acting, causes objects that have been placed into orbit to go into "free fall" AROUND the Earth instead of downwards towards the Earth (even the young Newton was able to figure that out some 350 years ago). You and your space craft's cast-offs are forever enjoined, unless or until you do something to slow the junk down, speed it up, or attach something (a gas cylinder etc) that sends it off into a different orbit.

You could try blowing it up, but some of the fragments would  probably follow you on your orbit.

All that accompanies one in orbit is not necessarily a UFO. It may be your contribution to space junk.

Speaking of which:

Watch: Russian cosmonauts jettison unneeded antennas on successful spacewalk

Headcam footage shows two russian cosmonauts floating outside the International Space Station on Wednesday on a six-hour spacewalk 



Telegraph article, 23 October 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Who says the Shroud of Turin image is homogeneous? Think again, fellow shroudies...

Here are two images of the TS image, frontal v dorsal,  that I can confidently state that no one apart from myself has ever seen before. In fact, I too had not seen them until a hour or so ago. (One needs to scrutinize them closely)

Shroud of Turin frontal image. Can you guess the provenance? Click to enlarge (look closely at chest, cheeks etc)

Shroud of Turin, dorsal image. Again, can you guess the provenance? Click to enlarge. (Look closely at shoulders* etc).

It's been said the TS image is "homogeneous", an observation deployed (quite rightly) - were it true -  in the recent past against the claim of STURP's sadly no-longer-with-us Raymond N. Rogers that it was formed by post-mortem decomposition process, one that was dependent on interaction between putrefaction vapours (ammonia, cadaverine, putrescine etc) and 'impurity' coatings on the linen .

Personally, this blogger has never bought into that scenario, for reasons enumerated previously  in some detail here and my other specialist 'shroudie' blog  that need not concern us now.

These two images show in  my humble estimation  that the TS image, whether imprint or painting (I still prefer imprint) is most definitely NOT homogeneous. Under the carefully adjusted contrast, brightness and mid-tone settings,  but emphatically with NO fiddling with colour,  they show some "grey" areas and some "orange-brown" areas, admittedly an approximate description.

The effect is seen better on the second (dorsal) of those two images.

*And if anyone says it's "just" blood, I have another image, ready and waiting, to kick that suggestion into the long grass. (Sorry about the idiomatic English - I only use it when animated,  and  I have to say that fellow shroudies sometimes get me animated, not to say pissed-off,  with the dismissive put-down tone of their comments).

 Following a recent line of enquiry, set out in some recent postings, I think I may know why. Details to come later.

For now, let's just content ourselves with the two new images, and hang loose for a while, if only to tease my readers (to say nothing of play for time).

Here's a challenge to fellow shroudies: whose images were these originally, and where did they first appear, before I began to tinker with them in MS Office Picture Manager (legitimately I maintain). ?

More to come (at leisure). ;-)

Like now (19:20 day of posting)

There's another image from the same source, same adjustment of brightness, contrast, mid-tone in MS Office Picture Manager. Note the two- tone effect.  (Click to enlarge).  Has anyone reported that previously?  Is the TS image really "homogeneous" as claimed? 

 Btw: we science bods much prefer the objects of our interest to be non-homogenous. It's a case of vive la difference, correction, vive les differences (between one bit and another).  It's those differences that tend to drive scientific enquiry (even if that tiny truism  is usually omitted from internet quickiewiki versions of the real scientific modus operandi).

21:10  Here's a comment I tried to post a few minutes ago to that "failed" to send (not for the first time). It was addressed to the site owner's personal friend (John Klotz) - I was told as much  in an email - whose pretentiously, not so say obscurantist entitled book (self-publication) has recently appeared.

"Why anyone would choose to write a  book while the facts are still coming in (albeit not as quickly as one would prefer) is a complete mystery to this blogger. That applies especially to lawyers who deploy the adjective "quantum" in the title of their book in relation to the TS, but who fail to deliver on that pseudo-scientific eye-candy (as a first-impression commentator recently felt moved to point out, though thanks to the author for volunteering that information - there's hope for him yet).

Einstein admitted to being unable to embrace quantum theory, or even get his mind around it. ("God does not play dice" etc). Why should we ordinary mortals imagine we can succeed when a gigantic intellect of the 20th century was left totally bemused?"

The only good reason I can think of for the human consciousness to operate on a quantum-physics principle is that we are stuck for a means for exploring our own consciousness. It's like an introspective  whale or dolphin, wondering why it is confined to the sea, and can't join (or re-join)  the other mammals on land. Answer: it's a question that is not worth addressing. Move on. Address those questions that ARE worth answering. Junk the term "quantum" unless one has something useful to say."

Wednesday 22 October

Before amassing  and displaying more  visual clues to inhomogeneity (yes, that's really all one can say with certitude - we are looking at clues - one needs a theoretical model (or models) that tries to make sense of what one is seeing, and hopefully suggests further lines of experimentation. That's my understanding of the scientific method - start with observational data first before getting too attached to theories.

So, by way of preparing the ground, so to speak, for a presentation of ideas and interpretation, coloured no doubt by past experience(s), here's something I put together last night:

Stepwise evolution of thinking over the last 3 years approx.

Mark 1 hypothesis – having quickly shelved radiation/thermostencilling,  assessing the merits/demerits of  the TS image as a simple contact scorch

Mark 2 hypothesis: Might there be  a way of achieving the same scorch intensity at a lower temperature? Experiment with invisible ink (lemon juice, in 2012) .

Also experiment with one-cell thick dried onion epidermis as an overlay, which also takes an intense brown coloration (Maillard reaction ) with scarcely any effect on underlying linen

Mark 3 hypothesis: Given that the invisible ink effect with lemon juice is  not due simply to acid-etching (citric acid) but to a more complex mechanism involving ascorbic acid, (Vitamin C)  which is believed to thermally decompose to give a four-carbon reducing sugar (threose) and thence a Maillard reaction with accompanying protein etc.then...

Maybe the TS image is a Maillard product, not formed in 1st century as Rogers proposed, using a corpse and its putrefaction products interacting with starch-impregnated linen, but from 14th century linen impregnated with a mixture of  reducing sugar and protein (e.g. milk or a mixture of lemon juice and egg white  etc)

Maybe there are areas on the TS with the imaging medium in both states,  pre-and post development, dependent on contact with heat (either from a template, or the 1532 fire or both).  In other words, imprinting of  the TS image required the presence not just of heat (simple non-nonsense scorching) but prior impregnation of the linen with a thermosensitive substance, modelled for now as "invisible ink" with milk or lemon juice (possibilities abound for creating a  two-component Maillard reactions in situ).

OK, let's now take a look at another image from the same brightness/contrast adjusted archive as the ones above. It's the dorsal legs.

Note the same two-tone effect as regards body image (grey/red-brown), not helped by the abundance of scourge marks in this location, but I maintain a real property of body image, distinct from blood.

Note that the grey component of the body image is NOT restricted to the legs in this graphic. There is lots of it elsewhere. But why? Does that not suggest that the entire linen was first impregnated with the thermosensitizing medium, and that while it has shown maximal 'development' (by analogy with photography rather than thermography) it is NOT exclusive to the body areas.  Note especially the wide band of grey on both sides of the vertical scorch line on the right hand side, the latter due to trh 1532 fire and the way the linen was folded in the reliquary. Is there not some prima facie evidence there for some heat 'development' having occured along the fold, such that the coloration now resembles that of the legs? There are other more diffuse, somewhat patchy areas elsewhere, all suggestive of "background colour" that has ofetn been remarked upon as reducing the tone difference between image and background. Maybe the background was not pristine untreated linen - but maybe it was impregnated with something other than Rogers's starch impurity coating. Maybe both ingredients for a Maillard reaction were present, needing only a temperature rise (less than needed to scorch untreated linen).

So how do we explain the two-tone coloration?

Let's take a closer look at the TS face - where it's easier to be sure what's blood, what's not:

(The image on the right is 'as is' from my re-discovered archive, i.e. before adjusting contract and brightness to reveal the apparent colour difference. Interestingly - and reassuringly- the red-brown coloration of chin, cheeks etc is faintly visible , note, BEFORE making those adjustmnents).

Note carefully the parts of the face that appear red-brown instead of grey. Is there anything about those parts that might make them behave differently in an image-IMPRINTING scenario, as distinct from a simple painting?

Here's an enlargement:

Rest assured it's still a valid TS image, based on what one sees when entering into tone-reversal in Image J:

... and after 3D enhancement in the same software:

08:48   What follows will come as no surprise to those familiar with this blogger's particular 'line' on the provenance of the TS image as an attempt in medieval times, probably early or mid-14th century, to simulate a sweat imprint, using a template or even real person to imprint a negative image from the most prominent body contours. The red-brown regions are precisely those parts of the human anatomy that would make best contact with linen. I propose that the red-brown areas represent slightly-scorched linen fibres, while the grey areas represent unscorched linen, the colour being due to a deteriorated Maillard reaction product formed on and still adhering to the surface fibres. In other words, the TS image is a two-tone composite,.

 10:54:  So what did I do to 'enhance' those TS images, and was the two-tone effect real or artefactual?

I've already pointed to strong evidence it is real, based on there being faint yellow-brown coloration in the starting TS image  BEFORE applying those new values for brightness, contrast and midtone value. First, let's give some more detail on that. I used Microsoft Office Picture Manager, and set the three values, originally all at zero to 30,36 and -100 respectively. Reminder: there was no direct adjustment of colour.But what one might ask would those three new settings do to a modern image with plenty of colour, displaying a range of  RGB values and intensities.

That's easy enough to check. I went through my recent photographic archive of experiments  for investigating in situ Maillard reactions, and pulled out one for use as a reference standard. Here is, before and after applying (30,36,-100).

As you can see, all the adjustment has done is to increase the saturation of each colour, but has NOT materially altered the colours in any obvious manner. All it does is to  make faint colours and faint stains look more prominent. That would strike me as a necessary step for any serious analysis of the TS image, given it's initially faint almost to the point of invisibility.

In fact I could have used a direct saturation control on different software, e.g. MS Paint, but chose not to, since that was part of the colour-editing package. I did not want to alter colour, only saturation, but more importantly did not wish to be accused of playing fast and loose with ANY control options listed under a colour menu.

Incidentally, if new readers to this site missed my posting on the above experiment, the impregnation codes (i.e. after soaking and drying) are: EW = egg white, ASC = ascorbic acid, EW1 + ASC2 =egg white applied first, then ascorbic acid, ASC1 + EW2 = ascorbic acid first, then egg white, CON = water control.
Heat was applied with an ordinary electric iron. Actual temperature? Dunno. Hot enough to produce a very faint yellowing on prolonged pressing against linen, but not sole-shaped scorch.

Needless to say, I shan't be deflected from my task by facile talk about "hidden artefacts". I've been conscious of that risk from the word go, and have been doing and talking about the kind of internal checks that are second nature to anyone who has spent their entire career in and around research laboratories.

I still haven't said where I obtained the base image, which you see has been pre-labelled at source. Clue: it was one I considered state-of-the-art before the IPad's Shroud 2.0 was released, before Mario Latendresse's splendid ShroudScope (don't ask!), even before I badgered David Rolfe for more of the HD pictures he was using to adorn his Shroud Enigma site. Has nobody recalled where they last saw that labelled image, and what it now is in its modern guise?

12:45  So can the same two-tone effect be obtained with Shroud Scope?  Answer: no, except with the eye of faith, and tilting of laptop screen, when there is a vague impression of reddish or yellow-brown on the prominences of the face, but less so the hair.

Before (left) and after (right) applying -30,20,0 (brightness, contrast and midtone value).  As I say, tilt laptop towards one to see a hint of brown in the right.

Why should the effect be seen so better in the first image selected for study?  Ah, that would be telling.

13:40  Got to wondering of there might be a Shroud 2.0 image going for free on the internet, given I have no iPad or Android (and am in no hurry to get one, having discussed pros and cons with owners).

It didn't take long to find a site that has exactly what's needed, albeit with a little cut, paste and crop (all for legitimate research purposes):

I'll be back later, after seeing what can be done with that image you see left of centre.

13:50: Here's the excised image:

OK, let's enter it into MS Office Picture Manager and see if it reproduces what we've seen earlier. It should.

Maybe a little reddish-brown in beard, relative to hair, on (-28,62,-21) but one has to know what to look for. It does not leap out of the page. Maybe a close-up of the 'critical' face with its angular prominences is needed.


It's not been easy. There is no perfect combination of settings. However, here's on (18,12, -97) that is reminiscent of what was seen earlier, with a generally somewhat grey and patchy body image  (greyer still outside) in which the extremities, or at any rate the chin  appear as red-brown, distinctively different in hue from the lank hair.

Note the blotchy grey that surrounds the image, which I interpret as the remnants of thermal-sensitizing medium used to impregnate the linen prior to imprinting.

AS I say, I'm a little surprised and disappointed with that  HD Shroud 2.0 image, for reasons that will be clear shortly. But then it was only an ad for 2.0. so may have lacked the "HD" (High Resolution) of what can be downloaded to one's iPad, or, in an earlier era... Maybe resolution is critical to spotting the two-tone effect. Maybe that's why it's been missed previously, by myself and others.

15:00  So why am I a little surprised and disappointed,

Well, it's like this dear reader. Some time before this blogger got (re)-interested in the TS, post the 1988 C-14 dating, there was an article on the BBC's  site by one Tom de Castella.  It was dated 12 April 2010.  (Tom de Castella? OK, so an Englishman's home is his castle, but one does not need to brag about it - certainly not by adopting a surname in feudal  Anglo-Norman French).

Stand by for a screen grab.

But there was a companion page too. Stand by for another screen grab.

It was called "Unshrouding the science of the Shroud":

Is that a TS image I see there? If so, whence its provenance (that term being employed in a strictly archival sense)?

Let's look down at the bottom of the page. Hopefully we'll discover the provenance of that image has not been altered since this blogger's eye first alighted on it yesterday morning, resulting in this unforgivably overlong posting.

What's that say, right down at the bottom there ? "Image courtesy of Fotografia - Proprieta Arcodiocesi di Torino". What could that mean, I wonder?   Will need to get my Italian dictionary out...

16:10:  Fancy. That's the same folk (in a cosy relationship with the Turin TS custodians) who now do the Shroud 2.0 app for iPads ("enter your credit card details").

 Well, would you credit it?  There we were, assuming that HD Shroud 2.0 was only available on iPads, at a price, when all the time it was there at the click of a laptop key on good ol' Auntie BBC, going way back to 2010.

It's a funny old world.


OK. End of tease. My TS image was essentially Shroud 2.0, made available to the BBC in 2010 well ahead of the better-known release of the iPad app that we call Shroud 2.0. But it's the same image from that HD (high definition) photography that, with a little intensification of existing colour ("saturation")  shows the TS image is in fact TWO-TONE.

Has anyone said that before today?  Maybe. If so, I must have missed it. Does anyone else recall hearing the TS image described as two-tone?

17:13  This comment from Hugh Farey has just appeared on

October 22, 2014 at 12:04 pm
Colin’s pictures are from Haltadefinizione’s Shroud 2.0 projected as labelled by the BBC at Although I can’t swear to having seen them before, they have been there since 2010…

Back to blogger: 
 Well, I've certainly got something right today, having told my wife some hours ago that if anyone could correctly identify the source of my input image, it would be the inestimable Hugh Farey.
 18:35  Sadly there are some folk who confuse high resolution with high magnification.

If one's interested in the colour differences that exist between one part of an image and another, viewed with the unaided eye, then one has to choose the appropriate level of magnification. There's no point in going to a high level  of magnification (no matter how good the resolution) if one can no longer discern the image.

One needs the appropriate level of magnification where image analysis is concerned (excluding studies at the microscopic level re degree of superficiality etc where the outlines of the image are no longer visible). Having fixed on the optimum level of magnification, one then desires the maximum level of resolution (i.e being able to distinguish between two close features).

Takeaway message: the TS image is a composite, which with enhancement of colour-saturation in MS Office Picture Manager appears to comprise an orange-red region at the most prominent parts of a 3D figure (nose, chin, brow-ridge, rib cage etc) and a greyer region elsewhere. The latter is not confined to the body image but appears elsewhere on the Shroud.

Interpretation of these differences is an ongoing challenge, possible pointers to which  have been included into this blog posting.  

 These preliminary findings and their interpretation may need to be qualified or modified in the light of further findings, especially if or when data become available from a new round of tests on the actual Shroud

End of post. Comments invited.